• Podcast
  • Nov 30 2020

'Behind the Blue': Addressing Underrepresented Minorities in Research Programs With Mark Prendergast

Coming from a large family in Nebraska, Mark Prendergast grew up with a desire to help others.

Prendergast, the director of the Neuroscience Bachelor of Science degree program in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, has used that desire to find demonstrative ways to increase the number of students of color in the neuroscience field.

“We have a longstanding commitment to addressing issues of diversity, inclusivity and equity,” Prendergast said. “And one of our most important missions as faculty and scientists is to train the next generation of scientists and professors. And we have to, absolutely must do that, with diversity, inclusivity and equity in mind.”

From 2013-2019, he co-directed a National Institutes of Health funded research training program for undergraduate students. The 10-week lab course studied alcohol at different levels of analysis, including cellular, behavioral and social. Prendergast says their mission was to address underrepresented minorities in the program.

In 2020, Prendergast began working with Joe Springer, director of the UK Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, to develop the African American Research Training Scholars Program. The program funds up to five 12-month awards for undergraduate students who identify as Black or African American to work in a laboratory studying spinal cord injury or neurotrauma.

On this episode of "Behind the Blue," UK Public Relations and Strategic Communication’s Carl Nathe talks with Prendergast about developing partnerships across campus, keeping students engaged in programs with work opportunities and mentorships, and more.

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